Microsoft opened a new online marketplace last night to sell a new class of desktop and web applications directly to consumers. The new version of Windows Live Gallery extends the existing Windows Live Gold partnership program with premium content listings, partner storefronts, and the ability to charge Microsoft’s users for each new widget. Microsoft’s widget marketplace uses the same Microsoft Points currency system as Xbox Live Marketplace and Zune Marketplace. The new gallery site also includes the ability to rate reviews (“4 out of 5 people found this review helpful”) and widget developers featured on the front page of the site.
Customers can buy a new widget and customize before making a final purchase. A music company might license songs bloggers can include in their Windows Live Spaces page, or The Wall Street Journal might sell a premium content widget for Vista Sidebar users. Publishers can set their own price and tap into Microsoft’s existing payment processing and currency-independent marketplace used by millions of people around the world.
The Windows Live Gallery Marketplace is the latest attempt by Microsoft to monetize small transactions on its platform. Xbox Live has been extremely popular source of tiny games such as Tetris or Zuma, helping the company reach new audiences of game players and developers alike. The new Gallery Marketplace opens up Microsoft’s platform as a paid distribution endpoint for content from around the web, which should shake things up a bit as new platforms consider new ways to help their developers monetize applications and content.